I had always heard that the French are not friendly. Especially how they wouldn’t engage with you if you didn’t speak perfect French. This left me a little worried given it was a last minute solo trip. (Please see The Long Awaited Journey). After the wonderful journey through London and all the friendly people I met, I was brushing up on my French as I arrived at Gare du Nord.From here I got directions for the Metro and made it to the Strasbourg St. Denis, a station in the 2ze district with a zillion exits. I walked to the exit where I had agreed to meet my AirBnB host, but wasn’t sure if I had walked to the right place in the confusing Paris Metro. I was a little anxious, since this was my first time using AirBnb and I didn’t have a phone in Paris and pay phones don’t exist any more. A lady happened to be walking by with phone in her hand. I asked her in English, if I could pay her to make a call. She was so sweet, and handed her phone to me and insisted I make as many calls as I wanted since she has an unlimited phone plan. When I was done, she said “Welcome to Paris, have a great holiday.” So touching! Not sure if I would do that for a stranger, but after this experience I’m inspired to be more trusting of strangers and be just as helpful.
I was in the right place and made it to the apartment (Please see “Living” in Paris to read about the amazing apartment). After dropping off my bags and getting out of the apartment, I spent an incredible day seeing Paris. The owner of the apartment and his girlfriend lived upstairs. When I got back later that night, they invited me over for some wine they had just brought back from their trip in wine country. I joined them and a friend for a glass or 2 two of amazing French wine. Over conversation I found out the owner was an international DJ who’s family has lived in this building for generations. He’s traveled around the world DJing. His girlfriend was born and raised on Champs Elysee and had lived in America for years – hence both of their English was so good.
Since I’m a totally foodie, I asked them where I could have a vegetarian-friendly authentic French meal. I told them I wanted to experience Paris like a Parisian and wanted some local recommendations. They made a couple of restaurant suggestions, but then said it would be best if I joined them tomorrow night for dinner. They would cook me an authentic homemade French meal. I totally took them up on the offer and joined them for dinner the next night. They put together an amazing spread for me. A super tasty leek salad that you mix in blue cheese. A potato and yam mash that was like nothing else I’ve ever tasted. A cooked celery dish with an amazing sauce and cheese of some kind. And last but not least a spread of cheeses and breads that I have never heard of or never tasted before. They were all very French, very unique in flavors, and super tasty – very different than anything I had tasted. The irony is that I don’t like blue cheese, but the one I had here was seriously so different, that I literally inhaled it. Again with dinner we had great wine and some amazing conversation.
The next night was my last night in Paris and happened to be a Saturday night. Since the owner would be in the French Rivera DJing an event, the girlfriend was going to spend the evening with friends and she asked me to join them. She told me there would be real Parisians there, so I could experience Paris. After a long day I got back at midnight, and came back to an awesome gathering. I spent the night hanging out with some of friendliest, super fun people I met. They were all offering to take me around town and telling me their life stories. I didn’t sleep that night. I spent time with my Parisian friends till the wee hours of the morning, and got ready to leave for the airport. It was an unforgettable night, with some unforgettable people, and unforgettable stories. So grateful for the kindness of strangers and French Hospitality!